Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On Cincinnatus and Julius Caesar. Do selfish genes feel by definition: the chosen ones?

He was a model of Roman virtue in early Rome. He was a role model for the Founding Fathers. George Washington felt honored if people would call him Cincinnatus. I'm talking about L.Q. Cincinnatus (519 BC - 430 BC?). Who? A Roman male who lived a couple of centuries before Year 0. A farmer who was called to serve Rome as dictator. Who defeated the Aequians, Sabinians and Volscians and immediately gave up his absolute power as dictator at the end of the crisis. He was nominated dictator ('Master of the People') for 6 months. After 16 days he gave up his absolute power after having conquered the Aequi. And returned to his farm. He was regarded a hero because of his outstanding leadership, service to the greater good, civic virtue and modesty. Cincinnatus is rare is history.

Why is he rare? Why is the species 'homo sapiens' so fascinated by honor and glory? Is it typical of our species? Is it typically male? Is it typical of Western civilization? If we look back in history we find out that emperors, kings and popes founded their power base on the blood of the conquered others. Once on the top most of them wanted to stay in power till "eternity". Giving up power is mostly regarded as weakness and act of stupidness. Why? Why do we want power? Why do males want to be on the top and stay there? Why are we not satisfied with living with our family on a farm?

Why am I telling you all this? I'm always puzzling and wondering why Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and wanted to stay at the top in old Rome and was not satisfied that his consulship finally  ended. After Julius more than 4 centruries of emperors of whom most not died in their bed.

Look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs - mark the 'pyramide' is an image you can read it as a 'beehive' too. Why was Julius so afraid of being politically marginalised? Julius was save. He was respected and rich after defeating the Gauls. Why was he not satisfied?  Did he not love others? Did he only love himselves? Was there something wrong with his procreation? Was he bullied or humiliated in his youth? For me there is only one thing that explains it all: Julius felt he was The Chosen or Messiah. (Mark that there is no religious or bodhi dimension in Maslow's hierarchy of needs.)

Once again, why am I telling all this to you? It's not about Cincinnatus. Allthough I admire his modesty. It's not about Julius Caesar. Allthough I admire his art of war. It's about me. I try to define what living my life means.

What do you think? Why do we want to reach the top and stay there? Is it all about selfish genes? Do selfish genes feel by definition: the chosen ones? For me it feels that modest people gain more advantage in evolution than people at the top.

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